Why MSPs Struggle to Oust Incumbent Providers

It's a battle against human nature.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

February 12, 2019

3 Min Read
Profiling subagents

Customers need a good reason to shake up the status quo, and the reason is simple.

People don’t like change.

A business might hang onto a service provider indefinitely when faced with the provider’s mediocrity. Brad Stoller says the “pain of making a change” often keeps customer accounts in the hands of second-rate technology providers, while well-rounded rivals can’t seem to get a foot in the door.

What’s the point of having superior technology and service if prospective customers are too sheepish to give you a shot? How do you break their loyalties and build trust for yourself?


The PT Services Group’s Brad Stoller

Stoller, the national director of business development at The PT Services Group, sees hope. He will offer a strategy to shift the nostalgia customers feel for the status quo in a presentation titled, “4 Steps to Oust a Competitor,” April 10, part of the business strategy conference track, sponsored by Nextiva, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

He briefly previewed his session with us. We have edited the transcript for clarity.

Channel Partners: Why do customers hang on to incumbent providers when other companies have better technology and service? Does this come down to price?

Brad Stoller: There are many reasons why customers hang on to their current providers. Much of it comes down to the thought, “If it is not broke, don’t fix it.” As long as a prospect feels no pain, they are likely to choose to not go through any transition into something new if they don’t feel that there is something to gain. Price can come into play, but it’s not always the main motivating factor. Much of the time, prospects simply want to do business with people they like and trust — and it can be painful to start a new relationship. The benefit of making a move has to be greater than the pain of status quo. This is simply the incumbent’s advantage and one of the reasons why most MSPs struggle with new sales.

Hear from Stoller and 100+ industry-leading speakers at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 9-12, 2019, in Las Vegas. Register now!

CP: What is one specific step/strategy to oust a competitor?

BS: Knowing that the prospect feels that the status quo is just fine and they don’t want to go through the pain of making a change, one strategy is to determine the cost of maintaining “status quo.” Most salespeople are great at letting others know the cost of their services but often ignore the costs of not doing their service. One method is to simply add up all potential losses … and show how your solution minimizes or eliminates that risk. Often that cost of staying the same can be much more significant than any cost savings when you only factor in your solution’s price versus the competition’s. When you get the buy-in from the prospect, you must make a statement such as, “I’m sure your provider has already gone over the ramifications of not upgrading with you.” Most of the time the prospect will speak up and say, “No, she has not.” When you get to that level, you are on your way to ousting the incumbent.

CP: What do you hope your audience will take from your talk?

BS: There is more competition today than ever before for MSPs, VARs and SaaS providers. Every sales professional needs to realize that there are three parties to every sale: the buyer, the seller and the incumbent. Most salespeople simply ignore that they need to present based upon three parties, not two. Attendees of this session will understand how to skillfully bring the incumbent into the sales meeting in order to create doubt with the prospect’s current solution. Anyone attending will also learn key strategies for how to protect their business from someone else coming in trying to oust them.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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